Monday

28th Sep 2020

EU to Poland: artists should be free to 'shock'

  • Behemoth at work: what is art anyway? (Photo: Metal Chris)

The European Commission has said that Poland's prosecution of a rock group for "blasphemy" is against European values.

It said on Wednesday (31 October) in a written statement for EUobserver that "national blasphemy laws are a matter for the domestic legal order of the member states."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

But it added that EU countries must respect international pacts.

It cited the European Convention of Human Rights, a Poland-signatory treaty attached to the Strasbourg-based rights watchdog, the Council of Europe, on freedom of expression.

"This right protects not only information or ideas that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also those that offend, shock or disturb," the commission said.

The statement comes amid a row in Poland over a heavy metal band called Behemoth.

Its lead singer, Adam Darski, while on stage in 2007, ripped up a Bible and called the Roman Catholic church a "murderous cult."

In a case with echoes of Pussy Riot in Russia or Mohammed cartoons in Denmark, the Polish supreme court on Monday said prosecutors can go after Darski on the basis of article 196 of Poland's penal code on "the crime of offending religious sensibilities."

In theory, he faces two years in prison. But nobody expects a jail sentence if he loses.

"[The decision] is negative and restricts the freedom of speech ... We are still arguing that we were dealing with art, which allows more critical and radical statements," Darski's lawyer, Jacek Potulski, told Reuters.

"The supreme court said clearly that there are limits for artists which cannot be crossed," Ryszard Nowak, a former MP for the right-wing Law and Justice opposition party, said on Polish TV.

Culture in figures: Nordics most engaged

In general in Europe, those in the north are more culturally savvy than those in the south, if statistics are anything to go by. But there are some outliers.

Culture: 'A new wind is blowing in Europe'

Faced with falling ticket sales, cultural institutions in Europe should be looking both for ways to reach new audiences and keep existing audiences on board, according to the European Commission.

Art to protest politics in Spanish town

In early 2012, Pablo Lag stood in front of an abandoned, half-constructed house in Alicante and kicked in the door. Inside, he began work on an art exhibition “to make people in the world know what is happening in Spain.”

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  3. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID-19 halts the 72nd Session of the Nordic Council in Iceland
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCivil society a key player in integration
  6. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular

Latest News

  1. Berlin repeats support for EU human rights sanctions
  2. China's carbon pledge at UN sends 'clear message' to US
  3. Far right using pandemic to win friends in Germany
  4. Visegrad countries immediately push back on new migration pact
  5. Why no EU progress on Black Lives Matter?
  6. EU migration pact to deter asylum
  7. 'Era of EU naivety ends', MEP pledges on foreign meddling
  8. Anti-mask protesters pose challenge for EU authorities

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us